Why You Should Own a Sketchbook

After spending an afternoon diving into a mammoth pile of my belongings that I’m giving away to charity, (mainly due to the fact I don’t want Channel 4 making a documentary about a 27-year-old Bristol based design hoarder!) I stumbled across all 30+ of my sketchbooks. From early school days, through to hipster friendly Moleskin sketchbooks reserved for only when I had a really ‘cool’ idea and an erasure. A few hours passed and I found myself losing track of time simply flicking through them. It was a self-indulgent, but insightful experience that made me appreciate the importance of owning a sketchbook.

Call me old fashioned but in most cases when starting a design brief, either self-initiated or professional I always find myself with a pencil in hand. I’ve discovered my own creativity flows much better from a piece of lead or even a half chewed biro. If you scroll through Fiasco’s portfolio you will see many cases of our initial sketchbook workings, for example the image below which Ben created whilst working on character concepts for Aardman.

Aardman initial sketch development

The natural design process for us here at Fiasco always seems to be a one where the pencil comes before the mouse. It’s quick, it’s instant and it creates absolutely no barriers between you and the artwork. Even when designing wireframes for websites, the speed in which we can experiment with layout design doesn’t compare to sketching ideas out.

One of my favourite designers Noma Bar recently confirmed my trust in sketchbooks when I saw him speak at WEDF not too long ago. Explaining that most of his working day consisted of sitting outside with a sketchbook in his lap and that he would only think about turning on his computer when he got home in the evenings.


Noma Bar’s Sketch book, exploring concepts for ‘Falling Man’ book cover.

Here at Fiasco we feel only good ideas can come from owning a sketchbook, we feel they become a catalogue of our own ideas. Not all great ideas perhaps, but those dodgy sketches that don’t quite make sense help the good ideas stand out and come to fruition! Owning a sketchbook has become mandatory for myself as a designer and honestly I could not live with out one.

Feeling extra brave? Do as the infamous type designer David Quay does and only use permanent pens in your sketchbooks, forcing you to learn from every mistake you make! Whether you’re an appreciater of the good old fashioned sketchbook, or you think they’re a waste of your creative time, we would love to hear your opinions below.

Happy doodling!


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